From First Timer to Old Timer by Michael Hyde

On most of my drives and tows I get asked a lot of similar questions, such as “Where are you from?” and “How did you come to find a job like this?” With my answer of being from a small town in Southwest Iowa and I found the job on the Iowa State online Job Board I am asked another question. “ have been up here before right?” When I answer them saying that this is my first time ever in the Boundary Waters, I get a different reaction every time it seems. Sometimes I get a confused look and others they are more excited for me working here for the summer than they are excited to go out on their trip.
There was one drive that I remember specifically, I don’t quite recall their last name but it was a man and his wife that I had just picked up from Poplar, and was bringing them back to Tuscarora. When I was asked those three questions, the wife was so happy for me, she had a smile from ear to ear. She told me how much she loves going on these trips and being up here for a week, she couldn’t imagine how much fun it would be to live here for the summer.
It took that group for me to realize where I really am. I am in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, people from all over the United States come here to vacation and I have gotten the privilege to work here for the summer. I have made so many new friends and acquaintances that I wouldn’t have even dreamed of making. This area has some of the nicest and most polite individuals I have ever met. I had no idea that I would have this type of experience being here at Tuscarora. I tell people that I was just looking for something new and different when they ask why I chose to work here. That is exactly what I got.
I didn’t have much canoeing experience before coming to work at Tuscarora. But, when I leave here I will leave with more knowledge than most people gain in a lifetime. I can’t even fathom the idea of not coming back up here, not necessarily only to work, but just to enjoy the experience and the wilderness. There is hardly anything else like this in the world, and I wake up to it everyday. I consider myself a very lucky individual to have gotten this chance to help the Ahrendt family continue their tradition of running great Outfitter. I have had multiple groups tell me that would recommend Tuscarora to anyone, not only for the equipment, but also for their hospitality and kindness.
I will never forget this summer, there have been so many things happen to me that I don’t think it would be possible to forget it. I have new friends that I plan on staying in touch with and they have made an impact on me more than anything else has this summer. Everyone up here is awesome and I can’t even think about not staying in touch. With a number of returning staff members each year, it is hard to think that this isn’t a great place. No one would keep coming back to a place that they didn’t love. I will always keep my memories from Tuscarora, through pictures and stories. I look forward to coming back here in the years to come.

(click on the photo below in order to see Mike up on the top of the cliff—far right)

Sue’s Note: Staffer Mike sent in these reflections from Iowa the other day. Maybe you can appreciate what an honor it is for us to share our summers with these good young people.